The USC Trojans are taking a well-deserved victory lap in their announcement of the hire of Lincoln Riley as head coach.
USC officially confirmed the Riley hire on Sunday night, shocking the college football world by hiring him away from Oklahoma. The football team’s Twitter account opened the announcement with quite the pronunciation: “We got our guy.”
USC athletic director Mike Bohn released his own statement accompanying the announcement. Bohn dedicated the hire to current and former players and supporters, and made an even more authoritative remark: “Our time is now.”
USC AD Mike Bohn on the Lincoln Riley hire: “This is for our current players, our former players, our alumni, our fans, and our entire university community. Our time is now.”
These aren’t normal statements that accompany a coaching hire, but USC knows it has hit a home run. Riley is one of the game’s hottest coaches. Any school that thought it could get him would have tried. The fact that USC, a program that has struggled in recent years, pulled it off is really remarkable.
One thing is clear: USC does not plan on this being a lengthy rebuild. They have reason to be confident that it won’t be. After all, there is already talk about some stars following Riley to LA.
Lincoln Riley is leaving Oklahoma for USC. Now the question is: which players are going to follow him?
One prominent player who would make a huge difference if he left the Sooners for the Trojans is quarterback Caleb Williams. The freshman quarterback on Sunday shared his first message regarding the Riley news.
Williams said he was happy for Riley. He also indicated he might have some other news coming when he said “that’s all I plan to say right now!”
I appreciate all the concerns about the situation but I am also happy for Coach Riley, mama Riley, Sloan and Stella for that huge opportunity ahead. That’s all I plan to say right now! #boomer
Williams took over for the struggling Spencer Rattler midway through the season at Oklahoma. He has passed for 1,670 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions this season.
Even if Williams doesn’t transfer, Riley still would have current junior Kedon Slovis and current freshman Jaxson Dart on USC’s roster to work with. Either player should excel under Riley.
Photo: Oklahoma’s Caleb Williams (13) before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Iowa State Cyclones at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.
USC’s impending hiring of Lincoln Riley will make a huge difference for the program. Riley had legitimate success at Oklahoma, going 12-2 in three straight seasons, while coaching an explosive offense. Not only should he be able to bring his successful offense/passing game to the Pac-12, but there is another big benefit to hiring him.
Even though he was at Oklahoma, Riley was already recruiting the talent-rich Southern California area well. As Inside USC’s Scott Wolf noted, Riley had the No. 1 recruiting class for 2023 at Oklahoma. Much of that was centered around three top players from Los Alamitos, a successful high school located about 30 miles south of USC.
Oklahoma currently has No. 1 recruiting class for 2023 with 3 players from Los Alamitos: QB Malachi Nelson, WRs Makai Lemon and Deandre Moore #USC
The USC Trojans are trying to make a splash with their next head coaching hire, and it looks like they might succeed.
The Trojans are targeting Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley to fill their coaching vacancy, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. Negotiations are advanced enough that Thamel expects a formal announcement within the next 24 hours.
Expect an announcement on this in the 24 hours, per sources. The final details are being worked out. https://t.co/OqtP63a9Ml
This is an absolute stunner, and it comes out of nowhere. Riley had been linked to LSU over the past week, but he firmly denied those rumors on Saturday. That was taken by most as a signal that Riley had no interest in leaving the Sooners. Apparently, it may have been because he had something else in the works instead.
Riley taking the USC job signifies an enormous shift in the college football landscape. He has established himself as one of the sport’s top coaches, posting a 55-10 record with Oklahoma since taking over in 2017. It will be a huge coup for USC, a program that has been looking to re-establish itself as a title contender for the better part of a decade. This would bring that goal closer to reality, and will undoubtedly provide a huge boost to recruiting as well.
The USC Trojans have had months to come up with a list of candidates for their vacant head coaching position. It appears that they may be ready to land on a favorite.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell should be considered the current favorite for the USC job, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. Trojans athletic director Mike Bohm is known to covet Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, but getting Fickell to leave the Midwest with the Bearcats in the College Football Playoff race may prove impossible.
Campbell appears to be a leading option, particularly with no clear West Coast candidate available. Campbell has been credited for his work with the Cyclones, and has even drawn NFL interest. USC badly needs stability, a culture reset, and recruiting wins. Campbell looks capable of providing all three.
That said, it certainly sounds like Fickell would have been the No. 1 choice. Unfortunately for the Trojans, he’s been pretty steadfast in his lack of interest.
Helton was fired after two games this season. The Trojans have since gone downhill and got pummeled by rival UCLA to fall to 4-6 on the season. Brown’s decommitment comes days after the UCLA loss and days after he visited Ohio State.
In addition to the Buckeyes, Brown has recently visited Ole Miss and Texas.
Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the vacant USC job, but the Trojans may have to look elsewhere.
John Brice of FootballScoop.com reported on Sunday that Fickell is expected to be “prominently featured” in USC’s coaching search. However, the Bearcats coach has no connections to the West Coast and has not expressed much interest in the Trojans job.
Many have viewed Fickell as a natural candidate for USC. While Cincinnati is having an outstanding season and should receive College Football Playoff consideration, there is also the athletic director connection. USC AD Mike Bohn was the AD at Cincinnati when Fickell was hired as head coach there in 2017. USC boosters might be hoping Bohn can convince Fickell to take the job, but it doesn’t sound likely.
Fickell is currently focused on stating the case for Cincinnati to be considered one of the four-best teams in the country. The Bearcats are 11-0, though they barely rank inside the top 50 in strength of schedule and have struggled against some mediocre competition. Fickell had a strong reaction earlier this month when Cincinnati was ranked lower in the CFP rankings than the national rankings.
Photo: Sep 4, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats coach Luke Fickell stands with his team prior to the game against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The hashtag was a mocking play on USC’s famous battle cry of “Fight On.”
Thompson-Robinson was a freshman behind starter Wilton Speight when UCLA last beat USC. Thus, leading the Bruins to an emphatic win over the crosstown rivals this time around had to be especially sweet for Thompson-Robinson, who also had a memorable viral moment during the game.
Photo: Jul 27, 2021; Hollywood, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson speaks with the media during the Pac-12 football Media Day at the W Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Tomlin has suddenly found his name tied to the USC head coaching vacancy, but the Pittsburgh Steelers coach made it clear on Tuesday that he has no interest in the job. Very clear.
Tomlin became extremely annoyed when asked if he would consider leaving the Steelers for USC or any other college job. He called the speculation a “joke” and said there isn’t an offer in the world that would make him give it a thought.
“Hey guys, I don’t have time for that speculation. That’s a joke to me,” Tomlin said. “I’ve got one of the best jobs in all of professional sports. Why would I have any interest in coaching college football? That’ll be the last time I address it, not only today but moving forward. Never say never, but never. Anybody else got any questions about any college jobs? There’s not a booster with a big enough blank check.”
Tomlin then ended his press conference by asking if any reporters have asked Sean Payton or Andy Reid about college jobs. Of course, Tomlin wasn’t asked about USC out of nowhere. He can thank former Trojans star Carson Palmer for that.
Palmer was a guest on “The Dan Patrick Show” Monday. He said he has given input to USC about the head coaching vacancy and discussed potential candidates. Palmer mentioned Tomlin and then seemed surprised that he was the first one to publicly link the Steelers coach to the job. You can see the funny video here.
If USC thought they had a chance to land Tomlin, they can probably forget about it now. Coaches have lied about their interest in other jobs plenty of times, but Tomlin was quite convincing.
It’s been a while since Jeff Fisher had the chance to coach at either the NFL or college level, but it sounds like USC might be giving him a look.
According to Brett McMurphy of Action Network, Fisher is “in the mix” for the USC job, along with a number of high-profile college head coaches.
Ex-NFL coach & USC alum Jeff Fisher is in mix for USC’s coaching position, source told @ActionNetworkHQ. On Monday, former USC QB Carson Palmer said candidates include Penn State’s James Franklin, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, Cincinnati’s Luke FIckell & Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
Fisher, like fellow former NFL head coach Jack Del Rio, played college ball at USC. One of the two of them always seem to have their name connected to a head coach search at USC.
Fisher has no college experience aside from his current gig advising Eddie George at Tennessee State. That said, he’s been open to college jobs in the past, and it’s hard to see him passing on this one, assuming his candidacy is legitimate.
Fisher became somewhat infamous for his mediocrity toward the end of his NFL tenure. He is 173-165-1 in his NFL coaching career, and has not had a winning season at that level since 2008. One would figure the Trojans would want someone more dynamic and accomplished for the role if they can find that option, but there’s no doubt Fisher has ample experience.